Sunday, August 06, 2006

55 Rupee petrol: Under Water Investigations

I've been swimming of late in the university. And swimming has reinforced what I have been thinking all along: the free market is, in reality, a rather unfair and dangerous thing.

I might not be rich here in the USA. I might just be above the poverty line. But I consume way more than I ought to consume: by virtue of just being here. My house in centrally air-conditioned. I just could not get an Indian style apartment whose kitchens and bathrooms are not air-conditioned. I have a sports car: it gives miserable mileage. A third of the Maruti 800. I had to buy this car: public transportation is a big farce in this country.

Resistance heaters are used to heat up the water in the house. Even in the miserably warm summer. Air conditioners are necessary in the car. All buildings are centrally air-conditioned. Only incandecent lamps are used. The GE "low energy" lamps are frowned at and deemed way too expensive.

And swimming pools. Oh, just don't talk about swimming pools. The bloody auditorium is freezing cold (when the outside is at 40C). And the auditorium is as large as a Walmart. There's hot water showers everywhere, dispensing hot water at 40C, heated up using electric heaters. And then there's the hot tub. Water heated up, sent at high velocities (and high Reynolds numbers) into the same, so that shivering people (in the a/c room) can feel warm. When it is bloody 40C outside.

This country's life-style has made it a parasite. This country's natural resources have made it a rich man. It snatches the energy resources from the poor countries. (Just like a richest person gets whatever he wants in the market). American people, at a personal level, are probably some of the nicest and politest on earth. Personal experiences at Texas A&M have been fabulous.

But put them together, and you get a monster. A monster which just goes on eating, eating and eating while the poorer people starve. A monster whose short-sighted foreign policy is at the root of almost all world-threatening problems today.

Perhaps it should not be just America that is to blame for the current inequity and the current mess. More people in the world are getting richer every day than ever before. Oil resources in the world are more or less constant. The newly-rich people of India and China use more oil. More demand, constant supply. It's just that the rich are getting richer - and are increasing in number.

And another thing. Of the 55 rupees that you pay for petrol in India, 15-20 go to the government as taxes. The percentage is much lesser in the US. And what does that mean? India is forcing itself to consume a lot less. India is doing the US a favour by this draconian tax.

Personally, I appreciate it - it implicitly "funds" alternative sources of energy.

It's a rather sticky mess, the whole thing. Wheels within wheels, to use a wodehousian cliche.

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